Dariad looked away from Alaryia. He’d never thought he would even consider trusting a goblin, but she’d been so helpful and right now her offer was very tempting indeed. But… She was still a goblin and he couldn’t discount the possibility that she was only being helpful to get him to trust her.
“I’m sorry,” he said after a moment. “I like you well enough, ambassador, but I can’t justify allowing you that much. My people wouldn’t stand for it.”
“I see.” Amusement threaded through her tone. “Yes, I suppose they wouldn’t like it if you let us bring weapons into the city – except to sell them, of course. Speakers will always want our weapons.” She put down her goblet, picked up a ball from a basket by her chair and began playing with it idly. “Your paranoia is amusing sometimes.” The ball seemed to to soften and flatten between her hands as she spoke. Dariad started as he realised that it was a ball of Mabain which had been solidified ready to be worked. “But never mind your people; we both know you could bring them around if you wanted to.” She spun the softened Mabain into a long sausage shape. “The problem is you still don’t trust me. Not that I blame you. Your people have no reason to trust mine and this could all be an elaborate ruse on my part, I suppose.”
Dariad felt himself flush slightly. “I wouldn’t have put it quite that bluntly.” He watched as she began flattening and smoothing the now glowing Mabain. She was watching him intently as she worked.
“No, you’re too diplomatic for that. You don’t feel right telling someone who saved your life that you don’t trust them.” She chuckled as he looked away and swallowed guiltily. “Don’t feel bad, Dariad. I told you a power vacuum in Caerdu would be inconvenient for me right now, so its not like I didn’t have an ulterior motive for saving you. I would have done it anyway, but you can’t know for sure I’m telling the truth about that.” Her fingers never stopped their deft manipulation of whatever she was making as she spoke.
“Something like that,” he conceded.
“Indeed.” He smile was almost a smirk. “But since I’m not likely to change your mind, let’s talk about something else. How is the Light Warrior doing? I haven’t had time to check on her today.”
Dariad stared at her for a moment, caught off guard by the sudden shift in topic. “She’s fine actually. Though upset at some recent news…” he trailed off as she looked at him curiously and he found himself considering whether to tell her about the Water Warrior.
“Hmm… and you can’t decide if you should tell me about it or not.” She parted her hands and the Mabain floated up between them and started to glow too brightly for him to look at. He stared at one of the tapestries on the wall instead and wondered how she was doing it – making that much light shouldn’t be possible in a dark affinity zone.
It took him a moment to realise that the tapestry was one of the ones his mother had commissioned. It showed the final battle in the siege of Caerdu in a series of scenes. He picked out the various warriors taking out the dragons behind the seige, and of course the speakers from the city attacking the dragons’ goblin foot soldiers in the aftermath. It left a lot out, of course. He barely remembered the siege, but he did remember the gnawing hunger because they couldn’t get food inside, and his father’s rage when they realised the whole thing had been a feint to keep the Warriors and their Heart Friends pinned down while the Black and Yellow dragons carried out their real plan.
“I think your chatelaine was making a point putting that in here.” Alaryia sounded amused again. “Remember we can kill you, or some such. She’s young enough not to know the full story and be proud of that part of your history, isn’t she? You can look back now. I’ve finished,” she continued without waiting for him to reply.
“Brita doesn’t like-” He broke off as he looked back and saw a beautiful slender sword in her hands and his mouth dropped open. She smiled at his shock and offered him the hilt.
“Take it, it’s for you. A small token of my esteem and the first fruits of our deal.” She gave him another one-sided smile as he closed one shaking hand around the hilt. He‘d never realised that they manipulated Mabain so directly. She cocked her head at his reaction. “Of course it’s also a reminder that if we wanted weapons here we’d have them before you had a chance to react. Go wherever it is you need to, Dariad. I’ll make sure that no one eats your people while you’re gone, I promise. Whether you want me to or not.”